Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We seem to be past the busy part of Christmas and are now coasting through to the new year. We spent the 25th with Dale’s family, then went to my parents on the 26th-27th. The kids had lots of fun with all their cousins, and it was nice family time all around. I’ve enjoyed not making a single meal since Christmas Eve, which hardly counts because it was a fondue and actually Dale did everything. I’m optimistic about the rest of the week too; the kids are going to my parents tomorrow for a couple of days and Dale and I are going out for dinner both nights. If no one cooks for me, I just eat chocolate instead. I can’t even believe how much Toblerone I’ve eaten. And the only exercise I’ve done is playing Wii, and yes, that does count because I have been sore for two days since playing some Sword Fighting game. I put my heart and soul into swinging that sword; I am just looking for a chance to use my skills in a real life situation. Anyway, as long as I’m wearing my stretchy pants, there’s really no problem with my lifestyle.

Yesterday Chloe and I spent a couple of hours cleaning her room. Despite removing two tote boxes of clothes, a full garbage bag, a pumpkin, and two squash (not joking), the difference is not visible to the naked eye. However, there are no longer clothes exploding out of the drawers and I am hoping that having a place for everything will encourage her to keep her room tidier. I’m not holding my breath; that girl is a borderline hoarder. She finds it difficult to throw out things like tags from new clothes, cue cards from a speech she did in grade four, and socks with giant holes. It was not easy to convince her that the squash had to go either. It was starting to smell. If they ever do a Junior Hoarders show, she would be a perfect candidate. It seemed to bother her when I suggested she had the makings of a hoarder, so I will use that to my advantage.

After all that cleaning, Chloe and I – along with every single person in Southern Manitoba - went to Polo Park. The lines were long, the deals were unexciting, and my coat was hot, so we didn’t last long. After that, we went to see Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakwel. I actually kind of liked it, but my expectations were very, very low, so don’t take that as a recommendation.

I un-decorated today; the Christmas tree is in the backyard and the totes of decorations are all packed away. I’m always kind of sad to take it all down, but it’s like ripping off a band-aid; you don’t really want to do it, but it’s a relief when it’s over. I’m all into the organizational mode now; Chloe’s gone all day tomorrow, so I might take another crack at her room and then it’s on to the next room.

Here are a few more Christmas pictures.

(trudging across the Tundra to go sliding)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We just finished our usual Christmas Eve festivities…the children opened their main presents from us and exchanged gifts with each other. The kids seemed pleased with their gifts, but it really wasn’t a banner year for anyone. The iPod and Nintendo DS from last year were hard to top. Santa will be coming shortly to fill the stockings for Christmas morning, so I’m just waiting around hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

Sadly, I haven’t had “that Christmas feeling” this year. I don’t know what it was – the lack of snow, being super busy all month, turning 40, or who knows what – but the Christmas spirit just hasn’t materialized this year. I don’t remember that ever happening before. We’ve done all the usual Christmas-y things like reading Christmas books, going to Christmas concerts and services, listening to Christmas music, spending time with friends and family, plus a few quiet evenings at home. The funny thing is Dale feels the same way, and on the way home from the candlelight service tonight, Spencer said the same thing. Dale and I hadn’t mentioned our lack of Christmas spirit to him at all, but out of the blue he said, “Christmas doesn’t feel special this year; today just feels like Thursday.” (but somehow, he was still very excited about opening presents).

I had a brief flicker of Christmas peace and joy at the candlelight service, but it was difficult with Neve making a scene because she wanted to go home and get different shoes. She wore her boots by mistake; she meant to wear her “pretty shoes.” I had to threaten to phone Santa at the church service. Something about that seemed a bit wrong, but it worked and the fussing stopped. Anyway, the lack of Christmas spirit is disappointing. A friend was telling me how she was stressed out and fighting a cold; she was at Costco buying last minute things for a party she was hosting that night, when suddenly she got the Christmas spirit and her mood totally changed. I kept hoping that would suddenly happen to me. I should have asked her what aisle she was in.

I had this brilliant idea back in November that we would do “12 days of nice things” for other people and I was lamenting today that we hadn’t done one single thing. Spencer, who always tries to make me feel better, said, “Well, I guess that’s not what’s it’s all about, hey?” That probably is exactly the missing piece. Oh well. Spirit or no spirit, there is still a lot of fun to be had and a lot to be thankful for. We’ve got a busy few days ahead with family celebrations followed by some relaxing days at home, which is just the mix I like. I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and hope your hearts are overflowing with joy and peace and love!!

Went on a sleigh ride at Birds Hill this morning in the lightly falling snow, followed by a wiener roast and hot chocolate. If that couldn't get my heart to feel Christmas-y, there's no hope.

And by popular demand, a picture from the birthday party:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

40 and finally finished shopping

I didn’t want to blog again until I could say I was completely done my shopping. I missed my deadline by a week, but it’s all good. Actually it wasn’t that good last night when I spent two hours going to every single store in the Polo Park area, looking for my one last gift with no success. In desperation, five minutes before the stores closed, I found something. It was more than I wanted to spend, but by that point, I would have traded the van for a gift. It’s probably not worth more than $62 anyway. Just kidding, Silhouette, we love you and even though we just spent $700 on you last week, you’re worth every penny. We wish you much health and happiness. Anyway, I was happy with my gift (sorry to be so vague - Christmas secrets …), but I felt rushed by the store guy who kept looking at his watch. As I was paying, I wished I’d chosen a different colour, but I didn’t have the nerve to halt the transaction while someone was standing at the door, waiting to lock it behind me. So I had to run back this morning for a quick exchange. And NOW I am officially done. I'm just waiting for someone to ask me if I am.

And I’m officially 40. Spencer said yesterday, “It’s strange how you can go from being young one day, and then the next day you’re old.” In his mind, 40 is where old starts. Oh well, I feel the same as I did when I was 20, so I don’t really care. It helps that Dale has been 40 for a few years; I’ve gotten used to the sound of it. Dale threw a lovely party for me Saturday night. He had help; my sister and my niece cleaned the house last Thursday night while I was at Spencer’s Christmas concert, which was the best surprise ever; Teresa gave Dale lots of guidance and baked the most amazing birthday cakes ever, Rob organized the drinks and bartending, others brought food and wine and Dale’s mom kept the kids overnight. There’s lots more, but I’ll stop there before I forget someone (forty-year-old minds aren’t the sharpest – don’t believe what you’ve heard about “older and wiser”).

It’s been a nice day so far; the kids and I went bowling this morning, which was very fun (really). Everyone was happy and cooperative, and our hour was up before we knew it. Teresa and her kids came over this afternoon, and tonight Dale and the kids and I are going out for dinner. My mom and sister took me out for lunch yesterday to a new restaurant in Osborne Village called Kawaii Crepe. It was so good that we’re going to go back tonight. I was too full to have a sweet crepe yesterday, so today I’m going to skip the “savoury” crepe and go straight to dessert. When you’re 40, you can do whatever you want.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The stockings were hung....

I'm so excited to finally have someplace to hang stockings!

I see I blogged 21 times in November, and once (before this post) in December. So much for the theory that once you do something 30 days in a row, it becomes a habit. I blame the usual December whirlwind of children’s Christmas concerts (FOUR this year), shopping, baking, Christmas letter-sending, parties, etc. I won’t go into detail about the busy-ness, but please know I haven’t been ignoring anyone on purpose.

My goal was, and still is, to be finished my shopping by December 15th. That happens to be today. I am SO close to being done. After I drop Chloe off at gymnastics tonight, I am going to make a few stops and hopefully finish things up completely. I don’t want to be one of those people who say, “Yeah, I’m pretty much done, just a couple of little things to pick up.” I want to say, “YES! I’m 100% finished!” And then I want to stay away from all retail outlets, no matter how tempting their “50% OFF EVERYTHING!!” window signs are.

I’ve done all of my shopping in little snippets – an hour here, an hour there. It’s not as overwhelming as spending a whole day shopping, and if things aren’t going well, I just go home and try again next time. However, I’ve taken Neve with me on some quick stops after I pick her up from school. She obviously doesn’t believe that Santa will bypass her stocking if she’s naughty. Because she’s been Something Else lately. We have at least one good tantrum a day, sometimes more. Yesterday, she kicked and screamed for about ten minutes in the van for no good reason. Well, okay, the reason was that she wouldn’t put on her mitts when I told her to, but then she changed her mind and told me to close my eyes and count to ten and there’d be a surprise. I counted to ten, waited a second, then opened my eyes. She had one mitt on, and was working on the other, and she was FURIOUS that I had looked before she was ready. She sat down in the middle of the parking lot and screamed. I liked that a lot, especially since it was about minus 50 and I had to carry her angry little body to the van while carrying lots of other things. I decided to punish myself further by stopping at Superstore to get a few things. I let her pick a Yop, and she couldn’t decide between raspberry, strawberry or banana. She asked if she could pick two, which was fine, and we started on our way. Suddenly she stops and says, “I want the strawberry instead.” So she runs backs and exchanges it for the raspberry. But it’s still not right. She breaks down and starts crying, “I don’t know which one to choose!” No amount of reasoning helps. That’s happened a few times lately, with clothing choices, etc. and I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s like she’s having an anxiety attack. Anyway, we eventually made it home and I realized she’d lost her hat. I didn’t look too thoroughly; I thought it would show up in the van or in a bag or somewhere. Later that night, I went to Superstore again for something else. I passed the hats & mitts section and thought I may as well pick up a hat for Neve. Even if we found the other one, it’s good to have an extra. And wouldn’t you know, there in the hat section, was Neve’s hat. Not just one like it (we bought it at Superstore last year), but her very hat. It had no tag and was obviously worn, and was the only one like it. It must have gotten lost in the store, and someone put it with the other hats. I explained the situation to the saleslady and she seemed to believe me, so it all worked out. Anyway, as soon as my shopping is finished, I hope to have more patience for tantrums and decision-making issues, and more attention for the children in general (which will probably prevent some of the tantrums).

The van seems to enjoy visiting the mechanic around Christmas, and this year is no exception. I had to take it in today for an emergency brake fluid refill, and Dale’s taking it back in on Thursday to determine where the leak is coming from. This is most inconvenient; it’s hard enough coordinating our schedules these days, never mind with one vehicle. I was just planning to buy the van an air freshener for Christmas; looks like it has something more expensive in mind.

The kids are getting very excited for Christmas. We have a Knight Playmobil advent calendar this year, with little boxes that the children take turns opening. It’s not the most festive thing – some boxes contain spears or other medieval weapons, some contain fire, and some I have no clue what it is. Maybe next year we’ll do the nativity one.

I overheard this conversation between the girls today:

Neve: Chloe, what did you get me for Christmas?

Chloe: I’m not saying.

Neve: Just trick me.

Chloe: Okay, I got you a snake.

Neve: NOOOO! Something else! Like a princess dress.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Costco and the Nice Lady

December 2nd and still no snow on the ground. There are a few flakes falling right now, so that situation could change soon. I went for a run this morning (I guess you can do that in snow too, but I prefer not to), Neve's still riding her bike to school, and we still haven't had to deal with the winter boot crisis that always happens the first snowy day. With three kids in the house, someone is always outgrowing their footwear, no matter how recently they've tried them on.

Our tree is still not decorated. I finally got the lights on it yesterday and after that ordeal I was in no mood to listen to soft Christmas music, sip on apple cider, and reminisce about past Christmases as we tenderly hang our special little ornaments on the tree. I felt like drinking hard liquor, screaming at the top of my lungs and banging my head against a wall (in that order). Okay it wasn't that bad, but I was in a pretty foul mood. So instead I went Christmas shopping, which did nothing to improve my attitude. I have much shopping left to do, and it's all the aimless, no-clue-what-to-buy type of shopping. But something nice happened to me at Costco, so it wasn't all bad. I was about to pay when I realized I didn't have my bank card. Dale often takes my bank card because his doesn't work (so he says) and this time, he forgot to give it back. They don't take Visa, so I was trying to think of what to do, while thinking very bad thoughts about Dale in my head.

Then the woman in line behind me comes right up to me, and quietly says, "I'll get it for you."

I thought she was thinking I didn't have a membership and was offering to put it through under her membership card. I said, "But I don't have any money."

"I know," she said. "But you only have a few things."

I told her I couldn't let her do that, but she seemed disappointed that I didn't accept her offer. It all ended up working out because I remembered I could get a cash advance on my Visa from the ATM (too bad about the interest that is accruing at an astronomical rate as I type this). But I couldn't believe a stranger would really buy me $54 worth of stuff at Costco. When I got home (after he gave me back my bank card), Dale and I were discussing the situation. If it had been him, he wouldn't have let her pay either, but he made a point that fifty bucks isn't a big deal to a lot of people, and it would probably have made the woman feel really good. If I had just needed a dollar, I would have accepted it, but it just seemed wrong to make her pay for chocolate chips, a DS game, and chicken. Maybe if it had been diapers or insulin or any other necessity of life.

What do you think? Would you have let her pay?